Updates Juno Mission News and Updates

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Juno will be NASA's next interplanetary mission. The Juno spacecraft will be placed in an highly elliptical polar orbit around Jupiter. It will try to understand its formation, evolution and structure.

The launch is scheduled for August 5th 2011, and arriving in an orbit around Jupiter in 2016. Juno will orbit Jupiter 32 times skimming about 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles) over the planet's cloud tops for approximately one year. The mission will be the first solar powered spacecraft designed to operate despite the great distance from the sun.

Juno will be carried into space aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifting off from Launch Complex-41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch period opens Aug. 5, 2011, and extends through Aug. 26. For an Aug. 5 liftoff, the launch window opens at 8:39 a.m. PDT (11:39 am EDT) and remains open through 9:39 a.m. PDT (12:39 p.m. EDT).

Spacecraft details:
Mass at launch: 3625 kilograms (7992 pounds)

Power source: three 2.65 meter x 9 meter (8.7 feet x 29.5 feet) solar arrays

Science instruments:

* Gravity/radio science system
* Six-wavelength microwave radiometer for atmospheric sounding and composition
* Vector magnetometer
* Plasma and energetic particle detectors
* Radio/plasma wave experiment
* Ultraviolet imager/spectrometer
* Infrared imager/spectrometer

Photo gallery of its move from Lockheed to Cape Canaveral (SpaceFlight Now):
JUNO LOADED ONTO TRAILER
SPACECRAFT LEAVES LOCKHEED MARTIN
JUNO GOES INTO THE CARGO PLANE
LOOK INSIDE THE C-17 CARGO PLANE
JUNO ARRIVES AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER

Animation video of Juno's mission

 
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NASA / NASA JPL:
Juno Solar Panels Complete Testing

May 27, 2011

Juno Mission Status Report

PASADENA, Calif. -- The three massive solar panels that will provide power for NASA's Juno spacecraft during its mission to Jupiter have seen their last photons of light until they are deployed in space after launch. The last of the Jupiter-bound spacecraft's panels completed pre-flight testing at the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla., and was folded against the side of the spacecraft into its launch configuration Thursday, May 26. The solar-powered Juno spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 30 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

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| Technicians at Astrotech's payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla. stow solar array #2 against the body of NASA's Juno spacecraft.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC​
| Three solar panels extend outward from Juno’s hexagonal body, giving the overall spacecraft a span of more than 66 feet (20 meters). Each of the panels are 9 feet (2.7 meters) wide, by 29 feet (8.9 meters) long.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech​


"Completing the testing and stow of solar panels is always a big pre-launch milestone, and with Juno, you could say really big because our panels are really big," said Jan Chodas, Juno's project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The next time these three massive solar arrays are extended to their full length, Juno will be climbing away from the Earth at about seven miles per second."

This is the first time in history a spacecraft has used solar power so far out in space (Jupiter is five times farther from the sun than Earth). To operate on the sun's light that far out requires solar panels about the size of the cargo section of a typical tractor-trailer you'd see on the interstate highway. Even with all that surface area pointed sunward, all three panels, which are 2.7 meters wide (9 feet), by 8.9 meters long (29 feet), will only generate about enough juice to power five standard light bulbs -- about 450 watts of electricity. If the arrays were optimized to operate at Earth, they would produce 12 to 14 kilowatts of power.

In other recent events, the 106-foot-long (32-meter-long), 12.5-foot-wide (3.8-meter-wide) first stage of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle that will carry Juno into space arrived at the Skid Strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 24, aboard the world's second largest cargo aircraft -- a Volga-Dnepr Antonov AN-124-100. The two-stage Atlas V, along with the five solid rocket boosters that ring the first stage, will be assembled and tested on site at Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral this summer.

{...}
 

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Hail the Probe !

[FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=+2]Hardened solar panels ready to power Juno to Jupiter[/SIZE][/FONT]
[FONT=VERDANA, ARIAL, HELVETICA, SANS-SERIF][SIZE=-2]BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: May 29, 2011

[/SIZE][/FONT]Inside a pristine clean room just outside the gate to the Kennedy Space Center, engineers casting brilliant beams of light on NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft finished checking the power efficiency of its 18,600 solar cells last week.

illumination.jpg

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-2]One of Juno's three solar array wings undergoes illumination testing in which bright lasts mimic the sun to check the power system. Credit: NASA-KSC/Jack Pfaller

[/SIZE][/FONT]Technicians also carefully deployed the probe's three solar panels to make sure they're ready for flight.

Everything checked out, according to Tim Gasparrini, Juno program manager at Lockheed Martin Corp.

"Completing the testing and stow of solar panels is always a big pre-launch milestone, and with Juno, you could say really big because our panels are really big," said Jan Chodas, Juno project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The mission is aiming to uncover clues about the origin of Jupiter, potentially yielding insight into the formation of the whole solar system.

Juno has three solar panels to generate electricity. The arrays will be folded up for launch, then unfurled like an accordian moments after the spacecraft leaves its Atlas rocket in space. Fully deployed, each wing measures about 9 feet wide and 29 feet long.

One array has a magnetometer boom on the end for one of Juno's research investigations.

Using a string of lights in place of the sun, Lockheed Martin employees illuminated each of the probe's three extended solar panels to verify they will produce enough electricity at the mind-boggling distance of Jupiter.

Because of their size, only one of Juno's solar wings can be extended at a time on the ground. Lockheed Martin's factory in Denver and the clean room in Florida are not large enough accommodate the simultaneous extension of all three wings.

The arrays are positioned on three plates of the six-sided core of the spacecraft, forming a triangular shape when they are deployed together in space. All together, the panels have an area of about 635 square meters, larger than most studio apartments.

"I like to tell my kids the spacecraft would almost stretch rim to rim on a basketball court," said Rick Nybakken, Juno's deputy project manager at JPL.

The solar array "walk-out" and illumination tests were a repeat from a similar check at the spacecraft's factory in Denver. But the solar panels were removed from Juno for the shipment to Florida, so officials wanted to ensure everything still worked when the components were put together again.

Engineers checked the current from the arrays when the light stand cast an eerie glow on the violet-colored panels. Officials were happy with the results, giving the all-clear to fold up the solar panels into their launch configuration and passing another milestone on the road to blastoff.

Next up will be fueling of Juno with rocket propellant, a spin test and mating of the spacecraft with launch vehicle.

junoart.jpg

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-2]Artist's concept of the Juno spacecraft at Jupiter. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

[/SIZE][/FONT]Positioned five times further from the sun than Earth, the king of planets is a foreboding place. Jupiter is surrounded by dangerous radiation belts, and just a fraction of the sun's light and heat reach that far into the solar system.

Up to now, robotic probes daring enough to venture to travel to Jupiter or beyond have always been powered by a nuclear generator.
The $1 billion Juno mission will blast off Aug. 5 on an Atlas 5 rocket. Its five-year journey from Earth to Jupiter will rely solely on sunlight, setting a new distance record for a solar-powered spacecraft when it is tugged into orbit in July 2016.

Its solar panels could generate up to 18 kilowatts of electricity with the bright sunlight at Earth, but that value falls to about 450 watts at Jupiter's distance. That's equivalent to about five standard light bulbs.
"If you had a 100-watt lightbulb at Earth, it turns into a nightlight at Jupiter," Gasparrini said.

Half of Juno's electricity budget goes to its thermal system to keep the spacecraft at a comfortable temperature. The balance goes toward communications, computers, propulsion and operating the probe's seven scientific instruments and color camera.

Juno will reach nearly twice as far from the sun as NASA's Dawn asteroid chaser, another ambitious mission exploring new frontiers with two huge solar panels. The European Space Agency's Rosetta comet probe is also pushing the solar power envelope, but it won't quite reach Jupiter's distance.

That all makes for a tall challenge for Juno's electrical engineers.
"The one thing enabling this mission is the efficiency of the solar cells," said Jeff Coyne, Lockheed Martin's chief engineer for Juno's power subsystem.

Without finding a way to power Juno on sunlight, the mission likely would not have made it beyond a PowerPoint slide. That's the consensus view among the team of contractor and government engineers helping prepare the helicopter-shaped probe for liftoff.

For one thing, U.S. reserves of plutonium fuel are dwindling for nuclear-powered spacecraft, and nearly all of what's left is already spoken for by future missions. Even if plutonium was available, the nuclear power generator would introduce regulatory hurdles that might have complicated development.

Instead, Lockheed Martin came up with a solar-powered concept that could still accomplish all of Juno's objectives at Jupiter.

"I started doing a lot of calculations using manufacturers' publicized information, and we came up with an array that would work," Kindt said.

magnetometer.jpg

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-2]Technicians install multi-layer insulation on Juno's magnetometer boom on the tip of one of the solar wings. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

[/SIZE][/FONT]Kindt played a key role in the decision to go with solar power on Juno a half-decade ago. He says engineers had to prove the solar cells and electrical circuitry could withstand Jupiter's hazardous radiation field and still be efficient producers of power.

Engineers came up with a novel design using 18,600 solar cells handpicked from Spectrolab, a subsidiary of Boeing Co. based in Los Angeles. Made of gallium arsenide, each cell measures approximately 3.7 inches by 2.25 inches.

"We're the first mission to do solar power at the distances of Jupiter, but the solar cell technology has evolved over the last few decades," Chodas said in an interview. "We have every confidence that our arrays will provide enough power."

Lockheed Martin and Spectrolab put each of Juno's solar cells through multiple tests to check their expected performance at simulated solar distances from the launch from Earth to the science phase at Jupiter.

Designers also devised additional radiation testing to make sure the cells, computers and wiring will survive Jupiter's radiation belts, which give off enough electrons, protons and other high-energy charged particles to zap Juno's unprotected brains on its first orbit.

But it will take 30 trips around Jupiter for the probe to collect the data scientists need to map the giant planet's magnetic field and peer deep into its swirling inhospitable atmosphere.

Juno will fly through Jupiter's doughnut-shaped radiation belts on each orbit, exposing itself to an environment that will eventually get the best of the spacecraft, ending its mission after just 15 months at the gas giant.

NASA's Galileo probe lasted for nearly eight years in the vicinity of Jupiter, but Juno will fly through the planet's worst radiation with more regularity, approaching within 2,500 miles of Jupiter's turbulent cloud tops on each pass. Officials liken the experience to receiving 100 million dental X-rays in a little over a year.

Juno's flight computers, avionics and commanding system are wrapped inside a solid titanium box on top of the spacecraft. Known as the vault, the container is about the size of a microwave oven and weighs nearly 500 pounds fully loaded, Gasparrini.

Engineers chose to build a radiation-shielding vault early on in Juno's development. They knew it was heading for an environment never before explored, encountering the most intense space radiation of any mission in history.

Some energetic particles will still penetrate the vault, but it is sturdy enough to keep the spacecraft alive through the planned mission. After about 15 months, engineers expect Juno will start to succumb to the radiation. They plan to dive the probe into Jupiter's atmosphere in a fiery sendoff to avoid the off-chance it could collide with one of the planet's inner moons, which are potential targets for subsequent missions.

deploy.jpg

[FONT=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif][SIZE=-2]Workers help guide one of Juno's solar arrays in a deployment test last week. Credit: NASA-KSC/Jack Pfaller

[/SIZE][/FONT]"All the challenges were recognized early, so work was going on long ago to design a spacecraft to survive in that environment," Chodas said. "It was a well-planned mission from the start."

But some of the challenges aren't so obvious to an armchair observer.
Juno's circuitry and power system is unable to work with the 18 kilowatts of electricty the probe's solar panels could generate right after launch. So engineers crafted a clever way to tie together solar cells into strings, giving ground controllers the ability to route just some of the copious power into the heart of Juno.

"At Jupiter, we only need to be able to handle a certain amount of current, and when you're sitting there with 18 kilowatts, you've got a lot of current," Kindt said. "It's a thermal issue for the electronics, so we back off to manage the amount of current we have."

As Juno ventures further away from the sun, controllers will add more strings to the power system, calling on a larger portion of the solar panels' collecting area for electricity as needed.

Radiation will also threaten the efficiency of Juno's solar arrays. Unable to protect the panels in the craft's titanium vault, engineers doubled the thickness of the cover glass over each cell.

"Radiation is a big degradation factor for our solar arrays," Coyne said. "We think we've avoided radiation at first, but the mission's later orbits take Juno deeper into the radiation belt. That's a big hit on the solar cells."

Juno's off-the-shelf solar cells were not designed to withstand the radiation at Jupiter, but testing shows they should do the trick long enough to collect the mission's science data. Solar cells on satellites near Earth typically last decades.

Even taking away the low-light and harsh radiation environment at Jupiter, the solar cells still have to handle the violent vibrations and fluctuating hot and cold temperatures of every space mission.

The craft will see temperatures ranging from minus 220 degrees to 266 degrees Fahrenheit. The solar arrays should be able to take even more extreme temperatures, Kindt said.

"They will all function," Kindt said. "We have gone through all the thermal and acoustic enviroments. We're highly confident we're not going to have any problems with the arrays."
 

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June 16, 2011 - CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Technicians at Astrotech's payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla. watch vigilantly as NASA's Juno spacecraft is tested for center of gravity, weighing and balancing on the rotation stand. Juno is scheduled to launch aboard United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla. Aug. 5.The solar-powered spacecraft will orbit Jupiter's poles 33 times to find out more about the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere and investigate the existence of a solid planetary core.

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Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett​

Source & earlier photos: KSC Media Gallery - Juno Category
 

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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA to Host Launch Tweetup for Jupiter-Bound Mission

June 24, 2011

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA will host a two-day launch Tweetup for 150 of its Twitter followers on Aug. 4-5 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Tweetup is expected to culminate in the launch of the Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft aboard an Atlas V rocket.

The launch window opens at 8:39 a.m. PDT (11:39 a.m. EDT) on Aug. 5. The spacecraft is expected to arrive at Jupiter in 2016. The mission will investigate the gas giant's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. Juno's color camera will provide close-up images of Jupiter, including the first detailed glimpse of the planet's poles.

The Tweetup will provide @NASA Twitter followers with the opportunity to tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex; speak with scientists and engineers from the Juno and other upcoming missions; and, if all goes as scheduled, view the spacecraft launch. The event also will provide participants the opportunity to meet fellow tweeps and members of NASA's social media team.

Juno is the second of four space missions launching this year, making 2011 one of the busiest ever in planetary exploration. Aquarius was launched June 10 to study ocean salinity; Grail will launch Sept. 8 to study the moon's gravity field; and the Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover will head to the Red Planet no earlier than Nov. 25.

Tweetup registration opens at noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT) on Friday, June 24, and closes at noon PDT (3 p.m. EDT) on Monday, June 27. NASA will randomly select 150 participants from online registrations. For more information about the Tweetup and registration, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/tweetup/tweetup_jpl_08-04-2011.html.

For information about connecting and collaborating with NASA, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect.

{...}


NASA Press Release: MEDIA ADVISORY : M11-131 - NASA Will Host 150 People For Tweetup At Launch Of Jupiter-Bound Mission
 

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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA's Spacecraft T-Minus One Month to Jupiter Period

July 05, 2011

PASADENA, Calif. - NASA's Juno spacecraft is 30 days before its first launch window opens.

"The launch window is the length of time allotted every day for an attempt to launch the spacecraft," said Jan Chodas, Juno project manager from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The launch period is the period of time in days when everything is in the right place to get your mission off to the right start."

For a mission like Juno, getting everything in the right place includes considering the size of the rocket and spacecraft, where our home planet -- and in particular Juno's launch pad -- is pointed at any moment, and its location in space relative to other celestial objects like Juno's final target, Jupiter.

Click on image for details​
Workers guide Juno's Centaur upper stage onto the mission's waiting Atlas V rocket.
Image credit: NASA/KSC​


"One month from today, our first launch window opens at 11:34 a.m. EDT (8:34 a.m. PDT) and lasts 69 minutes," said Chodas. "Our primary launch period is 22 days long, and so if weather or other issues come up on Aug. 5, we have 21 more days to get Juno flying. Once we get Juno into space, it's a five-year cruise to Jupiter."

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More photos from the rocket assembly (source: KSC Media Gallery, Juno Category):

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fsci123

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I remember when i was 5 and they use to say that any spacecraft beyond the asteroid belt cant use solar cells... And where are we now...
 

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What's this thing about the united states running out of plutonium? Can't we like just make more of it? Most certainly! But why the limit for space probes, it's not like that the taliban is gonna commandeer it or any nonsense like that..?
 

Artlav

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Don't take my word for it, but i've read that the most efficient way of producing plutonium is by blowing up a fusion bomb and using it's neutron flux for transmutation of U238.
And next best thing are breeder reactors at a rate of a sleepy snail.

Or maybe it's just some treaty about the environment or reduction of nuclear material. :shrug:
 

T.Neo

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People, we all know the problem with RTGs. OMG-nuclear-its-bad-do-not-want-NIMBY-NIMBY-NIMBY! ;)

There seems to be a problem with that image gallery. I click on an image, and I'm introduced to an entirely different image...
 

C3PO

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There seems to be a problem with that image gallery. I click on an image, and I'm introduced to an entirely different image...

Just correct the number using the ones in the "Properties -> URL" in the thumbnails.
 

orb

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Just correct the number using the ones in the "Properties -> URL" in the thumbnails.
A half of pictures had shifted numbers by 100. It is fixed now.
 

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NASA / NASA JPL:
Gas Giant Spacecraft All Gassed Up

July 07, 2011

Juno Mission Status Update

The Juno spacecraft completed hydrazine fuel loading, oxidizer loading and final tank pressurizations this week, and now the complete propulsion system is ready for the trip to Jupiter. The spacecraft is currently at the Astrotech processing facility in Titusville, Fla.

Hydrazine is the fuel of choice for most spacecraft because of its stored energy. When the fuel is mixed with the oxidizer, the liquid ignites in the propulsion system's main engine to perform the spacecraft's four large maneuvers. One of these maneuvers includes inserting the spacecraft into orbit around Jupiter in 2016.

With the fueling completion, the spacecraft is 99 percent ready for launch. Once the final thermal blanket closeouts and wet spin tests are complete, the spacecraft will be 100 percent ready for installation onto the Atlas 551 launch vehicle.

{...}
 

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Are they using hydrazine as an fuel in a bipropellant arrangement, or monomethylhydrazine/UDMH, or a combination of the two? Do they not want to clutter up the article with the names of long, scary-sounding poisonous propellants?
 
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I absolutely love this advertisement for the mission --
 

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NASA: Juno's Solar Cells Ready to Light Up Jupiter Mission


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NASA's Juno spacecraft completes acoustics testing at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, Colo.
Photo credit: Courtesy Lockheed Martin​
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Technicians in the Astrotech payload processing facility in Titusville, Fla., unpack a solar panel that will help power NASA's Juno spacecraft.
Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller​
In a clean room at Astrotech's in Titusville, Fla., technicians conduct an illumination test on the solar array panels for NASA's Juno spacecraft.
Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller​
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A gold-plated linear actuator will move one of the large solar array wings on NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which is a spin-stabilized spacecraft.
Photo credit: Courtesy Lockheed Martin​
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A technician inspects one of the insulating blanket sections that will be installed on Juno's magnetometer boom.
Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller​
 

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NASA / NASA JPL:
Juno Processing Continues in Florida

July 19, 2011

Processing on NASA's Juno spacecraft continues with the spacecraft being inserted into its payload fairing yesterday, (July 18, 2011). The payload fairing acts as a protective cocoon that will shield Juno from the elements during the first 205 seconds of the spacecraft's ascent to orbit. The encapsulation process is expected to take about four days.

On Friday, July 15, the Juno team used a process called gamma-ray radiography to inspect solder connections leading to a heater element aboard one of Juno's two magnetometers. The results of the inspection indicated there was an ample amount of solder connecting wire leads to the heater, enabling it to operate effectively during its mission.

Click on image for details​
Technicians use an overhead crane to lower NASA's Juno spacecraft onto a fueling stand where the spacecraft will be loaded with the propellant necessary for its mission to Jupiter.
Image credit: NASA/KSC​


The Juno spacecraft carries two redundant Flux Gate Magnetometer instruments that will measure Jupiter's powerful magnetic environment. Lab testing of heaters similar to ones on Juno, designed to keep the Flux Gate Magnetometer instruments warm in space, had indicated a small probability that wire connections might not operate as expected. As a precaution, NASA and Juno mission personnel had decided to inspect the Juno heater elements and, if necessary, repair solder joints connecting the heaters' electrical wires to their mounting surfaces to ensure mission success.

"This test gave us confidence that our magnetometer will work as advertised in just about the harshest environment you could find in the solar system," said Scott Bolton, Juno's principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

{...}
 

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NASA / NASA JPL:
NASA Briefing to Preview Upcoming Mission to Jupiter

July 22, 2011

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA will hold a news briefing at 1 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. PDT) on Wednesday, July 27, at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to discuss preparations for the upcoming Juno mission to Jupiter. The briefing will be carried live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

Juno, scheduled to launch Aug. 5, will improve our understanding of our solar system's beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter. Juno will get closer to Jupiter than any other spacecraft and will provide images and the first detailed glimpse of its poles.

Briefing participants are:
  • Jim Green, director, Planetary Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio
  • Jan Chodas, Juno project manager, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Steve Levin, Juno project scientist, JPL
  • Kaelyn Badura, Pine Ridge High School, Deltona, Fla.; high school student, Juno Education program participant and Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope Project participant

{...}



NASA Press Release: MEDIA ADVISORY : M11-153 - NASA Briefing To Preview Upcoming Mission To Jupiter
 

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Encapsulating and moving onto transporter

Encapsulating Juno into the payload fairing (July 18):
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Moving the payload onto transporter and preparations for transport to the SLC-41 (July 25):
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